Get set for summer camp with these seven easy preparations:
1. Don’t economize on the camp shirt. If the kids are required to wear a uniform such as a camp shirt each day, buy several and save yourself untold laundry aggravation. Day camps usually leave it up to you to decide how many shirts you need. The question is not whether you need several day-glow t-shirts with the camp logo. The question is how certain you can be that a shirt will be washed, dried, and ready to wear the next day without fail. Buy at least two shirts, and if your kid will attend for several weeks, buy three or four.
Buy a little larger size because shirts will shrink in the dryer even as your child is growing over the summer. Know that at least one shirt will be signed by the campers and counselors on the last day and will be the keepsake for the season.
2. Labels – print plenty and plan to attach them to anything that moves. This means clothes, shoes, zip lock bags, sunglasses, whatever.
3. Label the cell phone if one is allowed– This has to be the most overlooked yet most necessary of precautions. Although it feels old school, slap a label on the phone. Having a name on the phone (not the screen, not the contacts) will save precious time when your kid first walks away from her phone. Think back to every time you have seen someone discover a cell phone – the announcement, “Someone left their cell phone…did anybody lose their phone? Is this your phone?” Then the effort to unlock the screen, identify the person in the photo on the screen saver, look for owner info, etc. With a label, it’s a quick matter to find the owner and have it returned regardless of whether the battery is dead. A Hello Kitty case is not sufficient to identify an owner.
4. Create an ID card and laminate it for every bag or backpack – name, photo, name of camp, your cell phone, any other emergency info. The camp will have info on file, but having ready ID nearby is a comfort and could be invaluable in case of emergency or more likely, a brief moment of disorientation.
5. Monogrammed towel – buy a beach towel that has a simple pattern (such as stripes or dots) and easily identified from either side of the fabric. Wadded-up towels are hard to sort, but a simple pattern is easier to spot. Go ahead and get the towel embroidered with the full first or last name because initials are just a riddle at camp; besides, is your kid ready to own up to that middle name that has marked your family for the last four generations?
6. If overnight, monogrammed pillowcase – Pillowcases, unlike towels, do benefit from being in wild patterns so they are easy to claim in a bedroll, and also to hide dirt. Yes, we gasp at the thought of dirt on a pillowcase, but a white pillowcase is hard to keep and completely indistinctive. Buy a set of cases, have both embroidered with your child’s name at the hem, and then you will know there can always be a clean case while the other is being washed. The extra pillowcase can also serve as a dittybag. (Practically speaking, do you really expect your kid to remember to change his pillowcase for a clean one? You can’t get the one on his bed at home changed without yanking it out from under his head.)
7. Mini Sharpie – these are handy anywhere in the house but especially important to have on hand for camp days. You or your kid may discover clothing or an object that needs to be marked. Never underestimate the value of distinctive property in the scarcity of summer camp, even if it’s just a prize rock.